To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to increase the number of apprenticeships offered in the funeral and death care sector.
Apprenticeships are jobs with high-quality training, created by employers, and we encourage businesses in all sectors, including the funeral and death care sector, to use apprenticeships to recruit the right people and develop the skills they need.
There are two high-quality, employer-designed, apprenticeship standards in the funeral and death care sector available for employers to use; the level 3 funeral director standard and the level 2 funeral team member standard. In 2019-20 academic year, there were 50 starts on the funeral director standard and 140 starts on the funeral team member standard. A level 3 mortuary technician standard and a level 5 embalmer standard are currently in development.
To help employers in all sectors offer new apprenticeships, they are now able to claim £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over. These incentive payments were announced as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs in July 2020 and the extension of the scheme (to the end of March 2021) was announced in the November Spending Review.
We are committed to supporting employers of all sizes to offer apprenticeships. In the 2021-22 financial year, we are making available £2.5 billion to support apprenticeships in all employers, irrespective of their size.
We continue to work with smaller employers to give them the confidence and support to take on new apprentices. We are reforming the system so that unspent levy funds can be used more easily not just in big companies, but in the small and medium enterprises too.